Who knew my husband would cause me to quote, in part,

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner?

Walking in the kitchen for the third time that day, I sighed heavily, dramatically, the entire weight of the world dropping down upon my shoulders. The muttering started, “Is this the fourth or the twelfth time today that I’ve wiped the sink and counters?”

He’d done it again. Not for the first time, not for the fiftieth. In our going-on nine years of living in the same household together, truly, if I had a penny for every time I got soaking socks walking across the wooden-floored kitchen, I’d be, well, rolling in pennies.

My husband, Alex, had yet again strewn water everywhere.

Water in its proper place!

It’s bad enough that my enjoyment of walking barefoot through my home has long gone to the wayside because of the splatters and droplets he leaves trailing across the floor in his wake. But this mess covering the counter is too much.

My husband is a big guy. I am a small gal. He installed the sink and countertop long before I moved in. The sinks are deep, the counter space before it wide. Certainly I can reach the faucet easily enough. The issue is how wet do I risk getting from the puddles of water.

I’ve explained the physics to him about a hundred times—I am short. I hem pants, I move buttons in on blouses so the sleeves aren’t two inches too long. Yep, short person issues. The faucet is an exact arm’s length for me, with my stomach against the sink. You’d think an engineer would understand my words and tidy up after himself on a regular basis. Hmmm, it occurs to me that perhaps he does get what I’m saying and this is his way of messing with me.

Mini-breaks & dry floors.

Sometimes his travel-involved job gives me reprieves. Alone for one day or seven of them, I relax in the knowledge that at any time I can enter the kitchen and walk across the blonde floor with naked toes and nary a stray droplet of water is to be found. Heck, I could—and do—slide across the planks in my fuzzy socks without water causing an abrupt and often catastrophic halt.

The day he flies out, I clean the kitchen—spray the granite countertops, dust the crocks holding too many utensils, wipe the table, Windex the refrigerator, stove, and microwave. Then I polish that beautiful floor. For five days it’s mine, all mine! There are no crumbs falling out of the toaster when he pulls it from or puts in back in the cupboard. No coffee grounds spill from the grinder onto the floor, collecting there like, looking from afar like a mini ant colony.

Retirement? I’ll need a plan.

There were times when Alex worked from home, let alone when he debated retirement and was home for an entire year, that I thought I’d lose my mind constantly having to mop up the sink before doing anything in the kitchen. Health insurance? Nice income? Sure, those are perks, but this may be the happiest thing about him driving to an office for work: a dry floor.

Because of his water explosions, we have explicit use-of-bathroom-rules when we travel. Aware of how he is at home, I ensure anything I don’t want getting wet is moved far out of his way—most often in the other room. When he’s done showering and shaving, the sink area looks like a submarine just surfaced spewing shoots of water everywhere. He uses his towel to tidy the space. Most of the time. I think it’s weird how he can manage clean up in a hotel, but not in our home.

The usual course of travel-action each morning in a hotel is that I shower first so that my towel then becomes his bathmat, soaking up most of what splashes out of the shower, somehow, by his irregular bathing and from the sink when he’s shaving. It’s particularly difficult in European bathrooms, notoriously smaller than those in the USA and often with some kind of half-shower door—obviously these designers have never met my husband.

Once upon a time (to fully quote most of my favorite childhood stories), we were at Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club resort on Oahu and my delight was clearly evident when I entered the huge bathroom—tub, shower, separate toilet closet, and … lo my eyes beheld sinks on opposite sides of the room. One for him, one for me. Pure hotel ecstasy.

I rapidly learned at home to use the hallway bathroom as my own and let him explode the master bathroom to his heart’s content. I rarely enter that space—usually only to drop clothes down the laundry chute. A laundry chute! How fun is it to have one of these? It’s a darned shame the house doesn’t also have a dumb waiter so I’m not carrying baskets of dried clothing up the split-level stairs. How many times have I tripped up those carpeted-against-my-will buggers?

But wait, that has nothing to do with water.

In the summer, when we have a run of hot, dry days and our flower gardens are wilted and forlornly needing a drink, I leave the watering to him. Ah, such happiness you have never seen! Water, water everywhere, not a dry plant to be seen! 

He unravels the hose and stands for long minutes spraying this part of the hillside, that part of the planters, over here to get the lavender plants. He experiences pure joy with water going everywhere—everywhere it’s allowed to be.

Back in the kitchen, I’ve watched him orchestrate his fluid disaster time and time again. He washes off one small cucumber, shakes droplets from it, trails the remaining water across that darned hunk of granite in front of the sink, over to the towel hanging off the range, sort of dries his hand, and continues on to leave the kitchen with those missed droplets of water falling down before him … plop, plop, plop.

My joy in always going barefoot inside is long-gone except for when he’s long-gone on one of those trips. Hey—I think he has one coming up.

Being married takes a lot of patience and practice … and learning to laugh at the things that make each other crazy.


Read more about relationships in, Grand Gestures & Happily Married People